Wednesday, January 18, 2017

[Review] Silence

The masterful Martin Scorsese's longtime passion project Silence is a reverberating shout to God.

Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver play Sebastiao and Francisco, two 17th-century Jesuit priests from Portugal in search of their estranged mentor (played by Liam Neeson). With the help of an interesting character named Kichijiro (Yosuke Kubozuka), the two are secretly smuggled into Japan where Christianity has been pushed underground, and any known practitioners are persecuted.

It's definitely a change of pace for Scorsese, especially after the freight train of debauchery that was The Wolf of Wall Street. So there's no mafia, no raucous comedy, no Leonardo DiCaprio snorting coke off of a stripper's ass here. This is a slow, difficult, challenging, brutal, meditative, and nuanced viewing. A strenuous exercise in faith and doubt, will and betrayal. It poses the tough questions about religion and spirituality, and it raises crucial dilemmas for the characters involved.

Since Adam Driver sort of disappears for a while, it's Andrew Garfield that emerges as the film's central lead. His performance is stunning, capturing a deep pain and excruciation as well as a relentless devotion to his faith. Between 99 Homes, Hacksaw Ridge, and now Silence, Garfield is on a really impressive streak as of late. Also great is the ensemble of Japanese actors. Yosuke Kubozuka portrays a man caught between confession and survival. Issey Ogata is a menacing yet magnetic inquisitor, with Tadanobu Asano solidly playing his interpreter and enforcer.

A major "downfall" of Silence is that it isn't a film I'd sit through again any time soon. But its power is undeniable. Haunting, even. And beautifully shot. And the final image - absolutely perfect.

( 8/10 )

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